Ask a DisNerd – Favorite Rides and Those Darn Cats!

Good morning, all! Welcome to a slightly delayed edition of Ask a DisNerd! This time around we have two questions to answer, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

First off, Confessions reader Andrew asks: “What’s your favorite Disney ride of all time?”

It would be easier, Andrew, to tell you what my least favorite ride would be, since, generally speaking, I love almost all! But if I had to pick one ride and one ride only, it would go back to one of the original opening day rides.

Peter Pan’s Flight – pretty much perfection in an attraction that has stood the test of time.

Perhaps it’s because of the fact that Peter Pan is among my favorite Disney stories. Maybe it’s the idea of being able to fly in a pirate ship high above London and Never Land. Possibly it’s because it’s such a popular (i.e. long-lined) ride that it’s near impossible to ride over and over again, that it makes each time I ride a special treat. Nonetheless, I am like a little kid each time I get on that ship to begin my journey to the second star to the right. I can’t help but hope each time the ride breaks down. That I’m stuck for an extra amount of time floating over Never Land. To me, that’s a sign of an excellent ride – one that you can’t spend too much time on. One that captures child-like innocence and wonder. To me, that is Peter Pan’s Flight.

“Straight on ’till morning!”

Our second question comes from Confessions reader Tanya, who asks: “Why would anyone name a cat after the devil?”

Tanya, your question stumped me for a while. I was wondering what that had to do with Disney until a little light bulb went off in my head. “Ding! She’s referring to Lucifer!”

Here, kitty kitty kitty….

While I don’t have an answer to that, many theories point to the idea that Walt wasn’t all that fond of cats. Pete the Cat, aka Pegleg Pete, was Mickey Mouse’s first nemesis. The Cheshire Cat, while not villainous, wasn’t very helpful to poor Alice in any way. And those Siamese…. oh, how they tortured poor Lady. But I’m not sure I’m buying this theory. It doesn’t explain cute (and a little mischievous) Figaro or the helpful  to dalmatians everywhere Sergeant Tibbs! Just like humans, there’s a fair balance of good and bad!

So, I was left with asking the final authority on why anyone would name a cat Lucifer: My five year old daughter.

“Well, you see, when they were making Cinderella, they really wanted to name him Luci, but that’s a girl’s name. So they had to come up with a boy’s name instead. They thought about how furry he was and named him Luci-fur!”

Probably not the answer we were looking for, but pretty much as good an answer as I could find!

Alrighty, fellow DisNerds, that should do it for this time! Hope you enjoyed this overdue “Ask a DisNerd” – be sure to keep those questions coming!

Still Living In Never Land

I’ll be the first to tell you: I was never what you’d call a big fan of Peter Pan. In my eyes, Peter was, and still is, kind of a punk. No regard for authority, egotistical, no ambition beyond staying a kid, laughing at Wendy Darling as the mermaids in the lagoon teased, and for all intents, tried to drown her. Sometimes, you can’t help but wish Captain Hook would teach him at least a little lesson.

Nonetheless, over the years, I’ve softened my stance and warmed to the boy who never grew up. In fact, I’ll even say Peter related stories and characters within the Disney realm have become some of my favorites. Most of this I owe to a few things:

My wife, who has always loved the movie and counts it among her favorites. I doubt I would have watched it much without her to watch it with, and I’m grateful for that.

My daughter, whose love of Peter and Never Land is unmatched. My wife and I often joke that Peter was and is her “first love.” She still is enamored with Peter, his Lost Boys, and of course, the Darling children. In fact, we even commissioned a piece from a friend that showcases her love of Peter.

My favorite part of this picture? She’s flying over Never Land, and too busy looking at Peter to notice!

And, of course, Disneyland. How can you ride Peter Pan’s Flight without wishing your boat would get stuck over the fiber optic beauty of Never Land and just stay there? The fact that guests wait in 45 minute lines for a three minute ride is a true testament to how well this ride works as well as to the place it holds in people’s hearts.

But there’s a bigger reason that the older I get, the tales of Peter have become so meaningful to me.

Is this because of the fact that Peter never grew up and I’m longing for my childhood? Is it the dangerous beauty of Never Land? The enticing adventure that awaits (the Pirates on the Jolly Roger seem much more fun to battle than the corporate ones faced in daily life!)?

Maybe it’s a combination of all three..plus a little more. You see, although Peter never grew up, I don’t think that is necessarily a good thing. Wendy realized it. John and Michael did, too. In other stories, the Lost Boys came to see this as well.

Yet, when growing up, you run the risk of becoming a pirate. George Darling was well on his way. There’s a reason throughout the history of stage and cinema that He and Hook are portrayed by the same actor. The difference being, there was redemption for Mr. Darling.

It came in the form of remembering Peter Pan.

“I have the strangest feeling I’ve seen that ship somewhere before…”

As the years go by and I get older, it’s not the actual growing up that concerns me (as it did Peter). It’s the thought of losing touch with the memories of childhood (as with George). If I were to completely let go of those memories; If I forget what it’s like to pretend, to tell stories, to have an adventure just for the sake of adventure… I’m a pirate. It’s important to take on the responsibilities of an adult. But without the memories and feelings of childlike innocence and wonder, we grow self centered, annoyed, sometimes despising the beauty of wonder. And that, more than anything else, is why with each passing year I embrace the story of Peter Pan more and more.

At the end of Peter Pan: Return to Never Land, there is a scene that gets to me every time. If you haven’t seen it and don’t wish to be spoiled, don’t watch. But if you have seen it, or don’t think you will, watch with me. This little exchange between Peter and the now grown Wendy puts it all into perspective for me.

 

I think that now, I mostly relate to Wendy, who was ready to grow up. Although time may take its toll, I will always remember the magic of childhood, and cherish it in adulthood as well. Perhaps that explains my love of Disney, and my childlike amazement I still get whenever I set foot in a theme park or see the company logo flash at the beginning of a movie.

It’s because there’s part of me that never grew up and is still living in Never Land… and I embrace  it wholeheartedly.

Disneyland, September 2012 – A Photo Essay (Part 2)

I’d like to start this next part by stating the following: I never understood the appeal of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland. Never understood, that is, until I had a little girl that was old enough to be appealed to.

Oh boy, do I understand now!

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special experience that caters to the inner princess of every little girl. From the care of the “Fairy Godmothers in Training” to the magic mirror reveal, it’s a great way to make a little girl feel very special for a day (or two, if the hairspray and style holds)!

Who doesn’t feel like a royal princess after this experience? Our little girl sure did!

In fact, a few families with small children (and a couple grown ups as well) asked our daughter if they could get their picture taken with her. Of course, she obliged and felt like holding court to see if she could get even more visitors! Special thanks to my good friend Austen from the Disney Park Secrets blog for being part of her entourage and acting as royal guard along with another friend!

“Sure, you can have my autograph too!”

Going forward into Fantasyland, the next stop is definitely a must for multiple rides in a trip….

In a discussion with a friend the other day, we were both talking about how well classic dark rides have held up in Fantasyland. The paint schemes, the story, the music, the feeling of immersion –  you ARE part of the story; it just draws the rider in. Nowhere is this exemplified better than in Peter Pan’s Flight. The continuous 30-45 minute waits for a 2 minute ride are proof of that!

“There it is, Wendy – second start to the right and straight on ’till morning!”

Moving on to our next destination, It’s a Small World, we stop for a picture in the stationary teacup, a photo favorite of kids and adults alike… wait…it’s missing!

Hopefully it’s just getting some touch-up and will return; perhaps it has already. Any readers who frequent the park, can you confirm this?

No time to stop and cry over spilled tea… we have to journey to the rest of the world!

It is a small one, after all!

We arrived at It’s A Small World, right about the time of the Soundsational Parade. With all eyes fixed on the parade route, the line for Small World was nonexistent. Not only were we loaded onto our own boat, the boats behind us were empty!

Which gave me thoughts for a great Small World Halloween picture…..

“Sure, they go on, but nobody ever comes out…….”

Time to move from that horror into Toontown. Such a great themed land. Sure, there could stand to be a little more in the way of rides, but the detail put into this area is just amazing. From the curved architecture, the talking mailboxes and gag boxes to the little details in every house, there are so many opportunities to just admire the thought that went into it!

One of my favorite resting spots (for a parent, that meant about two minutes to be still in shade) is the area behind Donald Duck’s Boat, The S.S. Daisy. Between the shade and constantly running water, it’s quite a nice area to cool off! Which leads to one of my favorite pics of the trip – finding a bit of Adventureland in Toontown:

I’ve titled it “The Backside of Duckwater.”

With the mention of Adventureland, I’ll leave you with one more picture today; this one a bit of an observation. I often forget how awesome Adventureland looks in its theming. Even in a little area, it really does feel like you’ve been transported to a little outpost in the Jungle. The reason it gets missed so much is due to the bottlenecks that tend to happen between strollers, people walking toward New Orleans Square, and Indiana Jones riders. This past trip, with Indy closed, Adventureland became walkable again, and we were really able to enjoy the beauty:

Look! Elbow room!

Well, dear readers, that wraps up part two of my photo essay! I have one more part coming – a few pictures from California Adventure. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures. Feel free to share with your friends and leave any comments you may have as well! Thanks for reading!

The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge: Day 1

Note: This post is part of a 15 Day challenge with questions referring to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. For more information, or to see all 15 questions, please refer to the introductory post, The 15 Day Disneyland Challenge. As stated in that post, I am not the creator of the challenge – just a willing participant!

Day One: The Attraction You Have To Go On Multiple Times.

ONLY ONE?????

When thinking about this one, the first ride that came to mind was “It’s a Small World,” mainly because of the multiple times we have ridden it. It was my daughter’s first ride, and the one fail safe with the shortest line and an opportunity to sit in air conditioning for nearly 15 minutes. But while the ride is classic and the song charming, ultimately, it’s not the one that leaves me longing for more.

I then thought of my favorite ride: Space Mountain. Thrilling at every turn, great effects in the “launch tunnel,” and an amazing in ride score, it’s a must ride for me. However, riding multiple times, I’d rather see more than stars and asteroids, or whatever silly pose I choose to come up with for the picture in the end.

So which ride is it that leaves me wanting more? That makes me want to ride over and over if only the line would permit? That makes me wish the ride would just stop for a minute in any given scene?

Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning!

I actually don’t remember riding this one as a child. That’s not to say I didn’t; I just don’t remember. I do, however, remember the first time I rode it in high school. I don’t know if I could even talk about it afterward – I was just a 15 year old with his jaw very near to hitting the ground. Flying over the city of London, then onto Neverland… I was in awe. To this day I dream of building a room with a loft bed and thousands of fiber optic lights that turn on once the room is dark – just because I want to live in my own Neverland.

Now that I’m older with my own family, I still see the look of wonder in my little girl’s face whenever we ride; it is definitely a family favorite. Of course, we’ve put our own traditions into riding the ride. While waiting in the queue, we yell at the Evil Queen from Snow White peeking out through the window across the way to be nice. When we are first able to spot the Darling children’s nursery we say hi to Nana in our own special way: either barking or making other various animal sounds. However, once the ride starts, we’re still all transfixed by London and Neverland, although we do try to spot Mickey hiding in the windows of Big Ben.

Of course, the view of the real night sky isn’t so bad either!

So many rides could have been used for this one, but I think this one takes the cake for sheer beauty and wonder. Perfectly fitting for a boy who refuses to grow up!

Now it’s your turn, dear readers: What’s your repeated ride of choice?